Chapter Five

After hearing those words, his mind was reeling and he was shockingly confused. It was like two ropes were pulling him on each sides; one side was that the offer was an opportunity of a lifetime and Jared knew he’s very fortunate for a man like Paul Gregory Cunard to choose him to be the beneficiary of his multibillion corporate empire. On the other side however, his father is ordering him to proceed with the plan despite the old man’s condition. Then it hit him. As Jared looked at his father, a realization came to mind. His father wanted to secure the business for long term. Could this be possible? As stated by the lawyers, the document is binding and he had his chance of finding a woman fit to be his wife the last several years. The document said thirty-five. He’s turning thirty-nine! He realized the betrothal was put on hold for nearly 4 years to allow him to find a wife of his choosing. But he didn’t. Women he dated were not meant to be married into. They loved his money and the power he can give their careers but that was not enough, he knew. He now looked at his father, his eyes closed but knew he heard everything and is continually listening. His old man really looks weak compared to the past thirty-eight years Jared have known him. Very few his memories of his mother, but all of them with his old man and one thing he knew was that the old man doted on his wife. His father loved his mother, he realized with an unfamiliar joy. Tossing that thought aside, he had to admit that his father had a point when he told him that the corporation needed another generation to continue its legacy. A few more minutes of silence passed between all of them as Jared contemplated on the sudden proposition. Finally... as Jared tilted his head to speak, all faces were anticipating his answer. He knew he did not have a choice. Theirs were a family of deep-rooted lineage, traditions, and obligations. He knew that whatever arrangement his parents agreed during their years together was as binding, explicitly represented by the documents in his shaking hands. He still had questions but knew it was not the time to ask them. He was furious but knew too well that losing his cool in front of this audience, is never wise. He needed to understand the real reason behind the implementation of such an arrangement. Then he spoke in an almost whisper.

“I need to talk to your daughter first. When can I meet her?” It was like the whole room heaved a deep sigh upon hearing these words. The Cunards gave each other an encouraging smile and then Paul spoke.

“That would depend on you, Mr. Rickford. When do you wish to meet her?” Jared nodded and said.

“Soon if possible. I’ll give her a call soon” This was the worst thing Jared dreaded most.

One thing he hated mainly about wealthy daughters was that nearly all of them did not have a life. It was not in his plans to marry a wealthy man’s daughter for he knew what category they belonged. They were all spoiled women who lived their lives on an everyday routine of parties, and all sorts of glamorous escapades as if they‘re always happy.  Nearly all of them are wild creatures who were once deprived of the freedom they didn’t experience when they were still young. It’s the main reason on why he likes dating them – he and the women have something in common: deprivation of childhood. But it is the same reason why he does not want to be married to either one of them. Of course majority of them are mindless and complete bores, but it wouldn’t hurt if he married one of his ex’s, would it? After all, they are his type of women. Shrew! Damn it, he never wished to marry any one of his women… he didn’t want to marry anyone… period. He had to admit though that he is intrigued of the elusive daughter of the Cunards.

“Actually,” this time Jared heard the voice of Rosalie. It was a very distinctive voice because of the German inflection evident in her accent.

Jared couldn’t help but listen to her. Despite her age, she still has a very beautiful voice, not to mention a still very attractive face, and an incredibly refined posture.

“She’s a very busy lady, Mr. Rickford. Her profession takes a lot of her time. A very demanding one”, so he was wrong about the boring life issue of his future wife, Jared thought irritably. Maybe she was a social worker of some sort, he mused trying to amuse himself despite the anger seething within him.

That would mean that there is a possibility that the ‘lady’ - as Rosalie referred to her daughter - is a ‘suitable’ woman for him. Damn! What is suitable anyway?

“That would not be a problem. We can arrange to meet, whenever her schedule allows”, Jared politely replied.

Rosalie was about to answer his question when a knock was heard and then Aurora came in. She was wearing a white lab coat over her ankle length slacks, navy and white stripe knitted sweatshirt, and loafers. Her brown tresses were tied in a ponytail, while a stethoscope hung around her neck. The look on her face was utter surprise and alarm rolled into one. And to Jared’s desolation, her eyes were riveted to the Cunards. The next few words rendered him speechless.

“Goodness what are you two doing here?” Aurora said as she walked towards them to give each a kiss. “I was hoping to check on Mr Rickford’s recovery status…”

Jared’s eyes went from Aurora to his father and then to the two lawyers. Jesus Christ! He was totally caught off guard. It didn’t occur to him that the surgeon he just sacked a few days ago was his betrothed.

 He looked at his father. They both stared at each other’s eyes. And then, Jared saw Paul Cunard stand up while holding his daughter’s hand. He walked towards him.

 Aurora glanced at her father to the man in front of her. Somehow, she suddenly knew what was going to happen. A few nights before, her parents voiced out their want for her to get settled. But as she looked around the room, there were men in suits with briefcases which gave them the look of lawyers on the brink of reading a last will. This scene is incredibly confusing. My god, she couldn’t be betrothed to someone, can she? There is the possibility, for she suddenly realized that all women in her family were once betrothed to the men they now belong to and call as husbands! Her mother herself was betrothed to her father! Oh christ! She wanted to be free of her father’s tight grip. But before she can utter words, her father spoke.

“Mr. Rickford, meet our daughter - Aurora Margarethe.”

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